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How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Technical School near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama plumber installing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Madison AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For instance, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

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Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber.  It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced.  Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings.  They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems.  These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers.  A local Madison AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Madison AL plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice.  Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program.  Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night.  The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
  • Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made.  Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level.  A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
  • Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber.  Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued.  There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business.  Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.

As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master.  As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Madison AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree Programs

There are several educational options available near Madison AL to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber.  As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college.  The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete.  An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education.  There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature.  When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors.  Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive.  State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale.  However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden.  So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.

Topics to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

Madison Alabama plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Madison AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Madison AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for its licensing and then check to ensure that it’s up to date.

How Long has the School been in Business?  Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business.  The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time.  However, keep in mind that even the best of Madison AL schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.

What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates?  Ask the plumbing training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Madison AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Madison AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Madison AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Madison AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Madison AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Madison Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Right Madison Plumber Trade School

Picking the best plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Madison AL.